Ask any gay person about why he/she made the courageous decision to come out of the closet and they will tell you it was because they were tired of living a lie and simply wanted to be who they are.
Obviously, as western society has come to terms with the fact that being gay is neither a choice or a psychological dysfunction, people have become more accepting of homosexuality and it has become some what easier for gay people to identify themselves. Religious fundamentalists of all faiths continue to argue that homosexuality is contrary to the will of God and thus a sin. As such, many religious communities continue to express disapproval of gay love and relationships.
Rabbi Areleh Harel who lives in the West Bank, believes he has come up with a solution for gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews who do not want to come out of the closet, but are fearful of entering into heterosexual relationship under false pretenses. Rabbi Harel is playing shadchan, matchmaker to gay and lesbian Jews. No, he’s not matching gay men up with gay men or lesbian women with lesbian women. He’s matching gay men up with lesbian women so they can enter into marriages with one another.
Why? The Rabbi explains that such marriages make it possible for these individuals to enter into a heterosexual marriage that does not include any false expectations and that provide Orthodox gay men and women cover, to have seemingly “normal lives” that include children (regardless of how conception has taken place).
So far, Rabbi Harel has arranged 11 such ersatz marriages and a number of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews are seeking his assistance in arranging more of them. No doubt, Rabbi Harel believes he is offering a contemporary solution to an old problem: he is acknowledging that gay and lesbian people who wish to remain in the Orthodox community may need help in creating ostensibly ordinary marriages. The big plus to this sham, is that neither the gay husband or lesbian wife go into the marriage with any false expectations about their spouses loving them as anything more than a friend or as having the capacity to address the other’s sexual needs.
In a recent column in which I celebrated the decision of New York State to allow gay marriages, I argued that in so doing, New York had extended the “mitzvah,” the commandment that people should marry, to include gay people. One Jewish brother in Israel responded: “On what verse in the Torah do you base that idea? Marriage is based on the commandment (Genesis 1:28) “be fruitful and multiply.”
In my reply I wondered, “Does that mean that infertile people don’t need to marry? They can just have sex with whomever, whenever?”
To suggest in our times that marriage is all about reproduction is like using leeches and bloodletting in 2011 to cure a cancerous tumor.Yes, there can be no doubt that God wants humanity to reproduce. That said, the notion that making babies is all
that marriage is about, should be offensive to every person in the world who is capable of entering into loving, caring relationships that give meaning, purpose and joy to life. Does love have nothing to do with monogamous relationships? When people talk about their partner as being their “soul-mate,” do they mean “this is person I did or will make babies with?”
What Rabbi Harel is doing is a shanda, a scandal. Instead of encouraging people to be happy by accepting themselves, he is encouraging them to live a lie and create loveless marriages in which children will be raised. Are such disingenuous marriages not also an avenue to adultery?
Does anyone really think that children raised in households that have included one or more closeted gay parents, didn’t know, didn’t sense that there was a level of love and intimacy missing from their parents’ relationship? Can such false marriages serve as healthy role models for children to emulate?
Fundamentalists like to promote the propaganda that children need two parents of different genders to successfully develop to be happy, well adjusted adults. The truth is, children need two loving, honest, happy parents who aren’t living a lie to conform with an ancient definition of “normal.”
see video on Rabbi Harel to the right of this column